Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 26 May – Saint Mariana de Jesus de Paredes OFS (1618-1645) “The Lily of Quito”

Saint of the Day – 26 May – Saint Mariana de Jesus de Paredes OFS (1618-1645) “The Lily of Quito,”Third Order Franciscan, Hermit, Penitent, Mystic, Ecstatic, miracle-worker and she was endowed with the charism of prophecy – born as María Ana de Jesús de Paredes y Flores on 31 October 1618 at Quito, Ecuador and died on 26 May 1645 at Quito, Ecuador, aged 26.   St Mariana is first Canonised Saint of Ecuador and she has been declared a National Herione.   Patronages – Ecuador, Americas, bodily ills, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders, sick people, sickness.   Her Incorrupt body is enshrined in the Cathedral of La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús.st mariana de jesus header

Mariana de Jesus de Paredes was born in the city of Quito, in the New Kingdom of Granada (modern-day Ecuador).    She was born of aristocratic parents on both sides of her family, her father was Don Girolamo Flores Zenel de Paredes, a nobleman of Toledo, Spain and her mother was Doña Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo, a descendant of one of the best Spanish families.   Mariana was the youngest of eight children and it is claimed her birth was accompanied by most unusual phenomena in the heavens, clearly connected with the child and juridically attested at the time of the process of her Beatification.  St.-Mariana

She was orphaned at a very young age and, thereafter, she was raised by her older sister, Jerónima de Paredes and the latter’s husband, Cosme de Caso.    Mariana was drawn to a spiritual life, her sister and brother-in-law allowed her to live in seclusion in their house, living “the life of an uncloistered beata,” similar to Rose of Lima to whom she is often compared.   She was refused entry into a convent, despite supplication by her brother-in-law and surrogate father, Cosme de Caso.   She subjected herself to bodily mortification, with the aid of her Indian servant.   She did not live in total seclusion but rather focused her spiritual life on the nearby Jesuit church, where she participated in a number of apostolates.

Her spiritual life was closely connected to the Jesuits and her religious name “de Jesús” was no doubt intentional.   Following her death in 1645, her funeral and burial were in the Jesuit church.   The funeral sermon that the priest Fr Alonso de Rojas preached emphasised her bodily mortification and renunciation of the flesh and put her forward as a model for females in Quito to emulate.   “Learn girls of Quito, from your fellow countrywoman, [to prefer] holiness over beauty, virtues over ostentation.”  The sermon became a key document in the long process to establish her saintliness, Beatification (1853) and final Canonisation (1950).st mariana de jesus v lg

The Franciscans claimed de Paredes as a holy person.   She did wear the Franciscan scapulary and sash but her seventeenth-century Jesuit hagiographer, Jacinto Morán de Butrón, confirmed that the Jesuits nurtured her spiritual life.   Soon after Mariana’s 1645 death, the Franciscan province of Peru, based in Lima, included a biography of Mariana in the history of the province citing the Jesuit funeral sermon as a source.   She received the habit of the Third Order from the Franciscans in her native town of Quito.   ccording to her Jesuit hagiographer, Mariana did not go to the Franciscan church to receive the garments but sent someone else.

It is reported that the fast which she kept was so strict that she took scarcely an ounce of dry bread every eight or ten days.   The food which miraculously sustained her life, as in the case of Catherine of Siena and Rose of Lima, was, according to the sworn testimony of many witnesses, the Eucharist alone, which she received every morning in Holy Communion.st mariana de jesus graphic

Mariana possessed an ecstatic gift of prayer and is said to have been able to predict the future, see distant events as if they were passing before her, read the secrets of hearts, cure diseases by a mere sign of the Cross or by sprinkling the sufferer with holy water and at least once restored a dead person to life.    During the 1645 earthquakes and subsequent epidemics in Quito, she publicly offered herself as a victim for the city and died shortly thereafter.st mariana de jesus statue

It is also reported that, on the day she died, her sanctity was revealed in a wonderful manner –  immediately after her death, a pure white lily sprang up from her blood, blossomed and bloomed, a miracle which has given her the title of “The Lily of Quito.”   The Republic of Ecuador has declared her a national heroine.528px-Fesinger_Saint_Mary_Ann_de_Paredes footer statue

St Mariana was Beatified on 10 November 1853, Rome by Pope Pius IX and
was Canonised on 9 July 1950 Rome, by Pope Pius XII.

St Mariana’s incorrupt body is exposed and venerated at her shrine at the Cathedral of La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, known colloquially as La Compañía, is a Jesuit Cathedral in Quito, Ecuador. st mariaa de jesus incorrupt body

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Posted in "Follow Me", ARMOUR of CHRIST, MYSTICS, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on COURAGE, QUOTES on DISCIPLESHIP, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on MISSION, QUOTES on PERSEVERANCE, QUOTES on SACRIFICE, QUOTES on SANCTITY, QUOTES on SELF-DENIAL, QUOTES on SUFFERING, QUOTES on VIRTUE, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 25 May – ‘Who will be crowned without having fought?’

One Minute Reflection – 25 May – “Mary’s Month” – Monday of the Seventh week of Easter, Readings: Acts 19:1-8, Psalm 68:2-7, John 16:29-33 and the Memorial of St Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607)

“In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart, I have conquered the world.” ... John 16:33

REFLECTION – “Let nothing intervene to hinder the progress of any who travel alongside each other, in this evangelical life but let us walk with agile step though the road be rough and hard, let us show a brave and manly spirit, overcome obstacles, pass along from pathway to pathway, from hill to hill, until we climb onto the mountain of the Lord and make a home for ourselves in the holy place of His impassibility.

Now, companions assist each other on the way;  so then, my brothers, as the apostle says: “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and make up for whatever is lacking to others (cf. 2 Cor 8:14 ; Phil 2:30).   To the negligence that perhaps holds sway today, noble courage will succeed tomorrow, now one is in gloom and then suddenly one rises to the surface and discovers joy again, at one moment our passions rise up but soon God comes to help us, they are broken and calm returns.   For you will only be seen like this yesterday and the day before but, dear friend, you will not always remain the same but the grace of God will draw near you, the Lord will fight for you and perhaps, like the great Antony, you will say:  “Where were you just now?” and he will answer: “I wanted to see your combat.”

For now, let us persevere, children, dear children, let us be patient for a little, brothers, dear brothers.…   Who will be crowned without having fought?   Who will go to rest if he is not tired (cf. 2 Tim 2:5-6)?   Who will gather the fruits of life without having planted virtues in his soul?   Cultivate them, prepare the earth with the greatest care, take trouble over it, sweat over it, children, God’s workers, imitators of the angels, competitors with incorporeal beings, lights for those who are in the world (cf. Phil 2:15)!” … St Theodore the Studite (759-826) Monk – Catechesis 28john 16 33 in the world you will have tribulation- who will be crowned without having fought - st theodore the studite 25 may 2020

PRAYER – Lord God, as You brought joy to the world, through the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, grant that through His Virgin Mother, we may constantly seek and recognise our Lord and Saviour and turn to Him in complete trust and love.   May we ever live in confidence and share our joy with our neighbour.   St Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi, pray that we may know the courage of our Saviour.   Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY PRAY FOR US 25 MAY 2020

st maria magdalena de pazzi pray for us 25 may 2020

Posted in CARMELITES, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 25 May – Saint Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607)

Saint of the Day – 25 May – Saint Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607) Carmelite Nun and Mystic, Ecstatic, she bi-located and was the intercessor of many miracles, Stigmatist – born as Caterina de’ Pazzi (but in the family was called Lucrezia) in 1566 at Florence, Italy and died on 25 May 1607 of natural causes.   Patronages – against bodily ills, against sexual temptation, against sickness, sick people, Naples (co-patron).st maria magdalena de pazzi

The second of four children, Caterina was born in Florence on 2 April 1566, to Camilo de’ Pazzi and Maria Buondelmonti.    In the comfortable setting of a noble family, that began to call her Lucrezia, after her paternal grandmother, the young girl grew up peacefully and with a certain sensitivity to the aesthetic side of her social condition.   Her heart was open to God and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in great simplicity, which is something we can see in the way she might share her lunch pack with a needy person, out of compassion, or the way she would help the children of the poor by gently offering them the first truths of faith.   Her mother’s deep piety and the visits to her home by the Jesuit Fathers, that her parents invited regularly, helped to stamp on Caterina’s soul that sense of Church, “sensus ecclesiae,” that in later life would appeal so much to her conscience.

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St Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi at age 16 by Santi di Tito (1583)

At eight years of age, she was sent as a pupil to the nuns at San Giovannino.   The nuns, who noticed the contemplative nature of the child, prepared her for First Holy Communion and not many weeks later, Caterina was sufficiently mature to offer her virginity to God.   She was ten years old and now she didn’t need anymore to get the scent of Jesus, by standing near her mother when she had received Holy Communion, now, she began to meditate on the humanity of Jesus.   As she was learning to read, she came across the Athanasian Creed and she was very inspired by it.   In the same way, she grew to be totally enamoured by the meditations of St Augustine and the Lord’s Passion by Loarte, which she read on the advice of Fr Andrea Rossi, who was her Spiritual Director.   The artworks below are of St Augustine writing on her heart.mary-magdalene-de-pazzi_st-augustine-writing-on-the-heart-of-mmdp_lievo-mehusst maria magdalena de pazzi vision

She had not yet reached the age of seventeen, when she showed her desire to be consecrated to God in religious life.   Having overcome the initial opposition of her family, she entered the monastery in Borgo San Frediano, to join the Carmelite community of Santa Maria degli Angeli who were very happy to have her.   They allowed her to begin as a Postulant on 8 December 1582.   This community, that was well known to and highly regarded by the Bishop of Florence, was attractive to the young girl, principally because of the possibility of receiving Holy Communon everyday.

Two months after entering, on 30 January 1853, Caterina received the Carmelite habit, and with it, the name, Sr Maria Magdalena.   At the end of the novitiate year, it was decided, that she would put her profession back until there were other Novices ready to join her.   Maria Magdalena , however, got very sick in the following months, to the point of almost dying.   With little hope of recovery – even the best doctors in the city had failed to diagnose what today we would call pneuomonia – the Prioress decided to have her make her profession in danger of death, in articulo mortis.

About one hour after her profession, something happened to Magdalena.   It was an experience of rapture in God.   The sisters tell us that when they went to visit her in the infirmary, they came upon the young eighteen year old patient, transfigured and looking very beautiful.   From that day onwards, it was 27 May 1584, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Lord visited her every morning, for forty days and revealed the depth of his love to her.   These frequent episodes gave rise to many misgivings in the young girl whose only desire was to live in the hiddenness of her life in Carmel but, it was obvious, that this kind of grace had to be recognised and preserved.   For that reason, the sisters began very soon to take notes, writing down what Magdalena. would say while in ecstasy and what she would say, out of obedience, to the Prioress and Mistress.st maria magdalena ecstasy

Towards the end of that same year, a new period of divine favour began for her.   This time, Jesus, the divine Word, held her in intense conversation (reported in I Colloqui) that revealed increasingly, the bridal relationship that Christ had formed with her.   It was in one of those ecstasies that Christ brought her into His passion and death.   It was Holy Week in 1585 –  her experiences included the Stigmata impresssed on her soul, the Crown of Thorns, the Crucifixion and every scene from the Gospel was displayed, as if it was happening live in that slender tormented body.   Then, on the Sunday after Easter, she received from her divine Bridegroom the ring of her mystical marriage.481px-Pedro_de_Moya_-_Vision_of_St_Maria_Magdalena_di_Pazzi_-_WGA16308st maria magdalena de pazzi receiving the crown of thorns

The manuscript titled, Revelazioni e Intelligenze, gives a faithful account of the communication of God’s grace, that in the days between the vigil of Pentecost and the Sunday of the Blessed Trinity, gave Magdalena, an entry into the revelation, of the inner dimensions of her Trinitarian life.   What was communicated to her, was what goes on between the divine person, and how the human person can fulfil a supernatural vocation, by allowing this mystery dwelling within, to do its work.

The central element in this understanding, is the saving mission of the Word, Love, made flesh in the most pure womb of the Virgin Mary and the intuition of “dead love” as the highest expression of the ultimate gift of self.

On the last day of this intense octave of Pentecost, Magdalena began to see, with some clarity, that the moment had arrived when God, as He had made known to her already on a few occasions, was about to take away from her, the enjoyment of His presence. That was the beginning of five very difficulty years of torment and temptation, to the point where she felt as if she had been thrown into the “lions’ den” and reduced to “nothing.”   In these interior trials, described in the Probazione, Jesus continued to support her but without lessening the radical purification that striped her bare, made her more simple and extremely receptive to His visits.   In the heart of the crucible, however, Magdalena also received understanding from God concerning the condition of the Church of her time – so slow to implement the renewal sought by the Council of Trent – and she felt that she was being drawn by the Truth, to be involved in a practical way, in calling to order prelates, cardinals and even the Pope, Sixtus V.   The twelve letters that she dictated in ecstasy, in the Summer of 1586 are collected in the volume titled, Rinnovamento della Chiesa.   The five years of trial restored to us a Magdalena. transformed  . The Lord had brought her through a divinising process, through which, today, she could well be considered a master and guide.05-29 st maria-magdalena-pazzi

After Pentecost 1590, she returned to the normality of ordinary life, something she had always wanted.   Apart from just a few and important, moments of ecstasy (reported in the second part of the Probazione) her days passed quietly as she went about the jobs she had to do (on account of her spiritual maturity she was put in charge of the young sisters in formation) and all the other forms of humble service that she tended to seek.   Then the experience of “naked suffering” took hold of her and this would unite her once and for all to the Crucified Bridegroom.

Sr Magdalena could read the thoughts of others and predict future events.   For instance, during one ecstatic event she predicted the future elevation to the Papacy of Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici (as Pope Leo XI).   During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured many sick people.mary-magdelene-de-pazzi holy card

The symptoms of tuberculosis began to appear in 1603.   As her strength declined, she suffered the added pain of not being able to feel anything of the Lord’s presence.   Just her presence in the community, in the eyes of the sisters, had become a vision of God’s work of art about to be completed.   On 25 May 1607, at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Sr Maria Magdalena, at the age of forty-one gave up her spirit.

She was buried in the choir of the Monastery chapel.   She was Beatified in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII.   At her Canonisation in 1668, her body was declared miraculously incorrupt. Her body is located in the Monastery of Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi in Careggi.st maria magdalena body

Posted in MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 12 March – Blessed Giustina Francucci Bezzoli (c 1257-1319)

Saint of the Day – 12 March – Blessed Giustina Francucci Bezzoli (c 1257-1319) Virgin of the Order of St Benedict, Hermitess and Anchoress, Mystic – born in c 1257 in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy and died on 12 March 1319 in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy of natural causes while praying.   A white lily grew out of the stone of her tomb.   Her body is incorrupt.   Patronages – eye and sight diseases and problems, demonics.bl giustina_francucci_bezzoli_45_01

In Florence, in the Benedictine monastery of St Maria del Fiore in Lapo, the incorrupt body of Blessed Giustina Bezzoli Francucci is kept and venerated, moved here from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit of Arezzo in 1968, when the two cloistered communities met.   The large church of the monastery, in the centre of the village north of Florence, on Via Faentina, has also been a parish since 1938 and so, in admirable harmony, the two communities live and pray side by side, enriching each other with different gifts of the Spirit.   The nuns’ choir is the extension of the church and in the centre there is the tabernacle.   The community was founded by the wealthy Lapo da Fiesole who in 1350 hosted the first nuns here.   On 13 October of that year, Bishop S. Andrea Corsini consecrated the monastery with the rule of St Augustine and with the title of St Maria del Fiore which is older here than the Florentine cathedral  . The Augustinians remained until 1808, when they had to leave because of the laws for the suppression of religious orders, the Benedictines took over in 1817.   The tomb with the body of the Blessed is placed in a wall that unites the two communities and is visible from both sides – her face looks towards the cloister and seems to invite the lay faithful to dedicate time to prayer.

Blessed Giustina was a descendant of a very noble family, the Bezzoli Francucci and was born in Arezzo between 1257 and 1260.   With a lovable and humble character, she quickly gained a certain maturity.   In the rich paternal home, between ease and comfort, she assimilated with daily prayer, the most genuine religious sentiments.  She often deprived herself of food and loved to retire to her room to pray, thus the decision to consecrate herself to God matured at a very young age.   Her parents refused her permission and denied her any argument.   A single, beloved daughter, heir of conspicuous wealth, she had a very enviable future ahead of her – marriage to a man worthy of her family.   We know, however, that the ways of the Lord are not the ways of men – she first convinced her father with many tears and pleadings, then it was the turn of her paternal uncle, who was also determined not to deprive himself of his only
niece.   A serious illness of the father made everyone reflect on the transience of things and Giustina obtained the desired approval.   She was only twelve years old and this decision is incomprehensible to us but, at that time, important choices were sometimes made at that age.

Giustina was welcomed into the monastery of St Marco (which no longer exists today), bringing only an image of the Crucifix with her.   A dove landed on her head upon entry, an eloquent sign that the Holy Spirit was already assisting the humble daughter of the Holy Father Benedict.  She left everything to devote herself to meditating on the Word of God – the rough habit took the place of opulent silks and satin clothes.    Giustina was an exemplary novice, in the simplest tasks she responded with obedience to the needs of the community.   Giustina stayed in the monastery for about four years, until she was forced to leave with her sisters because of the wars that devastated the city.   With her Crucifix she moved to the Monastery of All Saints but even here the stay was not long.

One day she heard that in a cave, at the Castle of Civitella, a virgin named Lucia voluntarily lived.   To join this Lucis, it to share the most austere practice of Christian virtues became her greatest desire.   With the permission of Bishop Guglielmo Umbertini she moved to the hermitage where Lucia, very happily, welcomed her.   In extreme poverty they received a visit from Giustina’s father who, we can imagine with how much anguish, he tried in vain to bring her home.

The coexistence of the two anchorites lasted only a few years, until Lucia became seriously ill and the young companion assisted her with love until the moment of her death.   Left alone, Giustina continued to live devoted only to prayer and penance, visibly comforted by the Celestial Bridegroom who, through an angel, defended her several times from the attacks of wolves.   Such and many deprivations could not fail to undermine her health and at only thirty-five she began to have serious vision problems. She was forced to return to the monastery amidst the jubilation of the sisters who
now saw in her a heavenly soul.   However, the monastery was subject to soldiers’ raids
and the bishop Ildebrando Guidi had to transfer it to a safe place.   It was the year 1315 and Giustina changed residence again.

The Blessed had a singular devotion to the Passion of Christ and, although sick, she practised many mortifications.   She spent the last twenty years of her life, completely blind, falling into ecstasy several times, even in the presence of her sisters.   She lived in conditions of great misery but always confident in Providence and those who asked for a word of comfort did not fail to help them as much as she could.   She died praying, surrounded by her companions, on 12 March 1319.   On her body were evident, the sores caused by an iron chain, that for years had encased her fragile body.

The graces obtained through her intercession were immediately numerous.   A white lily grew spontaneously on her grave and with this attribute, Giotto painted it for the Florentine Church of Mercy.   The body, ten years after her death, was surprisingly flexible and the Bishop of Arezzo, Buono degli Uberti, confirmed the spontaneous cult that had been born in the people.   Two centuries later her body was enclosed in an iron chest until 1709, when it it was again exhumed and confirmed to be incorrupt.   An ancient war flag was found in the coffin left by a captain as an ex voto around 1384. Some fragments of the banner were distributed to the faithful as relics.
Blessed Giustina is invoked especially for eye and sight problems but some demoniacs have also been exorcised in front of her Shrine.

Blessed Giustina was Beatified on 14 January 1891 by Pope Leo XIII (cultus confirmation).

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Posted in MYSTICS, ON the SAINTS, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on SIN, QUOTES on SUFFERING, QUOTES on the CROSS of CHRIST, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 4 January – Pope Benedict and St Angela of Foligno

Quote/s of the Day – 4 January – Saturday of Christmas – the Memorial of Saint Angela of Foligno (1248-1309)

“Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed Angela’s life began with a worldly existence, rather remote from God.   Yet her meeting with the figure of St Francis and, finally, her meeting with Christ Crucified, reawakened her soul to the presence of God, for the reason that with God alone life becomes true life, because, in sorrow for sin, it becomes love and joy.   And this is how Blessed Angela speaks to us.

Today we all risk living as though God did not exist, God seems so distant from daily life. However, God has thousands of ways of His own for each one, to make Himself present in the soul, to show that He exists and knows and loves me.   And Blessed Angela wishes to make us attentive to these signs with which the Lord touches our soul, attentive to God’s presence, so as to learn the way with God and towards God, in communion with Christ Crucified.

Let us pray the Lord that He make us attentive to the signs of His presence and that He teach us truly to live.”

Pope Benedict XVI
A talk on Angela of Foligno – October, 2010today we all rish living as if god did not exist - pope benedict - 1000s of ways on st angela of foligno 4 jan 2019.jpg

“O children of God,
transform yourselves totally
in the human-God who so loved you
that He chose to die for you,
a most ignominious and altogether
unutterably painful death
and in the most painful and bitterest way.
And this was solely for love of you,
O human being.”

Saint Angela of Foligno (1248-1309)o children of god - st angela of foligno 4 jan 2020.jpg

Posted in CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, CHRISTMASTIDE!, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MYSTICS, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on DISCIPLESHIP, SAINT of the DAY, St JOHN the BAPTIST, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 4 January – “Come and see.” 

One Minute Reflection – 4 January – Saturday of Christmas, Readings:
1 John 3:7-10, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, John 1:35-42

He said to them, “Come and see.”   They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day … John 1:39

REFLECTION“John was there and two of his disciples with him.”   John was such “a friend of the Bridegroom” that he did not seek his own glory, he simply bore witness to the truth (Jn 3:29.26).   Did he dream of keeping back his disciples and preventing them from following the Lord?   Not in the least.   He himself showed them the one they were to follow (…) He declared:   “Why cling to me?   I am not the Lamb of God.   Behold the Lamb of God (…) Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”

At these words the two disciples who were with John followed Jesus.   “Jesus turned and saw that they were following him and said to them:   ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?”   As yet they were not following Him definitively, as we know, they joined themselves to Him when He called them to leave their boat (…), when He said to them:  “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). That was the moment they joined Him definitively, no longer to leave Him.  But for now they wanted to see where Jesus was living and put into practice the words of Scripture:  “If you see an intelligent man, seek him out at daybreak;  let your feet wear away his doorstep!   Learn from him the precepts of the Lord” (cf. Sir 6:36f.).   So Jesus showed them where He was living, they went and stayed with Him.   What a happy day they spent! What a blessed night!   Who can say what it was they heard from the Lord’s mouth?   Let us, too, build a dwelling in our hearts, construct a house where Christ can come to teach and converse with us.” … St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father & Doctor of the Church – Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 7john 1 39 he said to them come and see - let us too build a dwelling - st augustine 4 jan 2020.jpg

PRAYER – Almighty God, the light of a new star in heaven, heralded Your saving love  . Let the light of Your salvation dawn in our hearts and keep them always open to Your life-giving grace.   May we stay with Your Son, for He will teach us Your ways.   Kindly hear the prayers on our behalf of Mary our mother and of all Your saints and may St Angela of Foligno intercede today on our behalf.    Through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.st angela of foligno pray for us 4 jan 2020.jpg

Posted in CARMELITES, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin,”

Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin,” Discalced Carmelite, Mystic, Stigmatist, Marian devotee and client of St Joseph, Prioress, Spiritual director – born as Marianna Fontanella on 7 January 1661 at Balderino, Italy and died on 16 December 1717 of natural causes at Turin, Iraly.   Also known as Maria degli Angeli, Maria Fontanella of the Angels.  Bl Mary studied with the Cistercians as a child and entered the Discalced Carmelites despite the protests of her mother and siblings – she soon became a noted abbess and prioress and in 1703 inaugurated a new convent she herself oversaw the establishment of and later, instigated the building of a beautiful Basilica in honour of the Blessed Virgin. 464px-bl Anna_Maria_Fontanella.jpg

Marianna Fontanella came into the world on January 7, 1661.   She was the youngest of 11 children born to Count Giovanni of Turin and his wife, Lady Maria Tana.   The mother had among her close relatives, the mother of St Aloysius de Gonzaga SJ (1568-1591), a youthful aristocrat who renounced a life of privilege to become a holy Jesuit.   The fact that there was an official Saint counted among her kin was undoubtedly a source of pride for the family but it wasn’t enough to impress Marianna to want to become one too.   It was related that this Blessed initially lived her early years in a manner typical of her high social status – she was well-educated, pampered and exposed to all sorts of social niceties and assemblies … and she enjoyed it all, especially the fancy outfits and the dances.

However, on one particular day, while still a young child, she sat in front of a mirror admiring herself when her own reflection vanished to be replaced by a vision – Christ appeared in the mirror, sadly staring back at her, battered and crowned with thorns.  The experience so shocked Marianna that it had the immediate effect of a lasting conversion.   From that moment on she shunned her elaborate wardrobe and jewellery and began exercising a devout mode of living despite her tender age.   In 1667 she schemed with a little brother to imitate the saints and to run off to live “in the desert” though, at the time they were meant to begin this journey, the two were so fast asleep that their plan was spoiled.

Due to her familial relationship with him, she adopted Saint Luigi Gonzaga as a model for personal holiness and made an effort to imitate the late saint’s example.   In 1673 as a 12-year-old, Marianna accompanied one of her sisters to the Cistercian Monastery in Saluzzo where the latter was entering into religious life.   Somehow, Marianna was able to persuade her parents to allow her to board with the nuns and she remained with them for over a year until her mother recalled her home due to the unexpected death of her father.   Back at the family villa, she resisted her family’s efforts to marry her off and she practised a regimen of prayer and self-mortification.   Apparently, while with the Cistercians, an earlier resolve she made to become a nun had strengthened but she was undecided as to which order to join.

After providentially meeting and speaking with a venerable Carmelite priest during one of the rare public exhibitions of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marianna applied with the local Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Santa Cristina.   Lady Maria reluctantly consented when it became clear that her daughter could not be dissuaded, so Marianna made her entrance into Carmel on 19 November 1675, she was 14-years-old and took the name Maria of the Angels.BL Maria_degli_Amgeli

The first year in the monastery was not easy for the aspiring nun.   The sweetness of spirit and the divine favours she had started to enjoy before entering, evaporated, leaving Sr Maria with a terrible dryness in her soul.   She clung desperately to her faith and, guided by a meticulous novice mistress, she managed to reach profession on 26 December 1676…  but the sense of separation from God – the “dark night of the soul” – continued to torment her for the next 15 years.   The devil aggravated the situation, via severe temptations and diabolic assaults.

Fortunately, the beleagured nun weathered her personal storm through the consistent practice of virtue, especially humility and obedience towards her superiors.   All that she suffered, served to purify her spirit, as Jesus was leading her on a singular path of extraordinary mystical union with Himself, as was proven later on.

By 1691 Sr Maria was finally free of the darkness and began experiencing supernatural lights with greater intensity.   Sublime visions of Christ and heavenly inhabitants resumed, along with other mystical gifts such as Prophecy, the Stigmata and the Fragrance of Sanctity.   It was reported that the beautiful scent that constantly surrounded her was so obvious, that the other nuns could track her whereabouts by following the aroma she left in her wake.   The Blessed, on her part, took to carrying small bundles of flowers and spices to try to disguise the heavenly scent but to no avail – it increased on feast days and during times when she was ill and unable to take precautions, to disguise the fragrance.   Even things she handled, were imbued with the delightful scent!Blessed-Mary-Fontanella-1.jpg

Noting her many virtues and fine example of Carmelite spirituality, the community elected Sr Maria to the post of novice mistress in 1691 then prioress in 1694.   Word soon spread outside of the monastery about the extraordinary prioress and people began seeking her counsel and prayers, including the reigning king of the region, Vittorio Amadeo II of the royal house of Savoy and other members of the nobility.   Vocations to the Carmel of St Cristina increased, which necessitated the founding of another monastery in nearby Moncalieri in 1703, with the encouragement from Blessed Sebastian Valfrè CO (1629-1710).   Sr Maria had hoped to transfer there, to be away from the centre of the limelight but the king explicitly forbade her to ever leave Turin, due to his dependence on her advice and his devotion to her.

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A depiction of Bl Maria of the Angels interceding with Christ to spare
Turin from a chastisement of the dreaded plague.

Public esteem for the prioress reached a pinnacle in 1696 when the city was besieged by an invading army.   She publicly announced that the city would be saved if people turned to St Joseph, for help, which they did.   Turin was liberated and, in gratitude, St Joseph was proclaimed the Patron Saint of the city by the king.   Similarly, in 1706 when the French besieged the city, the citizens and royals turned to the intercession of their resident mystic – the nun invoked the Holy Virgin’s protection and the city’s army was again victorious.   At Sr Mary’s urging, a church – the great Basilica of the Superga (Superga is a Hill in Turin) – was built to commemorate the victory and to honour Our Lady.

 

 

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The beautiful Basilica of the Superga in Turin, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin,
and constructed under the prompting of Bl Maria of the Angels.   Below is a window of Bl Maria in the Basilica.

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Sr Maria of the Angels died peacefully in her monastery on 16 December 1717, after living a productive life of prayer, self-sacrifice and service to her beloved people.   She was 56-years-old at the time of her death and all of Turin mourned the passing of she, who had saved them from wars and even a plague in 1714.

At the instigation of King Vittorio, the holy nun’s Cause for Canonisation was started just a few years after the death of Sr Maria.   Pope Pius IX declared her a Blessed on 25 April 1865 but a second miracle has yet to be officially recognised for the prioress to reach sainthood.   Let us pray for her speedy Canonisation.BL MARY RELICS of Bl. Maria.jpg